Looking for a place to rest your feet and feast your eyes on the sights and sounds of Dublin’s fair city? Award-winning photographer Dave G Kelly shows us his favourite benches for people-watching, view-soaking and cuddling around the capital
No, your eyes are not deceiving you; this really is a tree slowly swallowing a bench. Located by the entrance of the King’s Inn on Constitution Hill in Dublin 1, the half-eaten seat appears to be Mother Nature’s revenge for all the centuries of tree felling. The leafy predator has ensnared the back rest, rendering it fairly obsolete as a place to sit but leaving it looking as spectacular as an extra in Alien. A warning to those who consider messing with trees!
Evening time in Sandymount and the promenade is bustling. Take a seat here and you’ll see passing traffic of joggers, walkers, courting couples, parents pushing buggies and dogs dragging owners. When the tide is out on a clear day the strand seems to stretch to infinity. Through the mirages out on the sand, you can see ferries glide by, and the perky Poolbeg towers dotting the horizon like two tall red-and-white clad Wallys taking in the view themselves.
Along possibly the prettiest stretch of the Grand Canal by Baggot Street bridge sits the bronze sculpture of the Monaghan poet. Prompting many a double take, Patrick Kavanagh now keeps company with couriers, tourists and suits on their lunchbreaks. Affectionately known by Dubliners as ‘the crank on the bank’, in his own words: “O commemorate me with no hero-courageous / Tomb – just a canal bank seat for the passer-by.”
The boardwalk on the River Liffey has been a great recent addition to the city life. Making the quays a place to sit and relax was not going to be easy, but the timber benches hunkering behind the Liffey’s stonewalls really offer a pocket of solitude between the flowing waters and passing cars. Stretching from Liberty Hall in the east to Capel St Bridge in the west, it’s hard to beat a stroll along here as the sun sets.
In the heart of the beat about Dublin, nothing is as sublimely relaxing as a leisurely lunch on a bench in über-central Trinity College, perhaps watching a thrilling game of cricket. This spot of utterly calming green open space is just a couple of minutes walk from almost anywhere in the city – and is totally free. People-watching and snatching the philosophical ruminations of furrowed browed students on their way to class is a real bonus.
St Bartholomew’s Church
On a wonderful leafy corner in the heart of the outer-city-centre hub of Ballsbridge sits the beautiful St. Bartholomew’s Church on Clyde Road. Take a moment to rest your feet and admire one of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in the city, dominated by its quirky looking octagonal central tower originally intended to carry a spire.
Perched up on Military Road in Phoenix Park, the views from these randomly scattered benches are a joy to behold. The vistas range from boating clubs along the Liffey to the far-off Dublin mountains; throw in some wandering deer who will pass you without a care in the world and you’ve found yourself one of Dublin’s hidden treasures.
If you’ve made it as far south as Dalkey by DART, do yourself a favour and visit nearby Bullock Harbour. Offering spectacular north views along Dublin Bay, take a seat for serenity and count the seals and seagulls who nod their heads at you. You might even end up hiring a boat to check out the coastline – now there’s a thought…
Check out more of his Dave G Kelly’s views of Dublin on flickr